My Forgotten Book for today is a 1937 story from the pen of J.J.Connington. A Minor Operation features his usual Holmes-Watson pairing, Sir Clinton Driffiled and Squire Wendover, but they don’t make an appearance until the scene has been set in a series of chapters featuring the misadventures of the Adeney family.
Nicholas Adeney has been released from prison. He worked in the family business with the husband of his sister, Hazel Deerhurst. Deerhurst was a rogue who, having wrecked the Adeney family business through fraud, is also just about to leave prison. Hazel makes it clear to Nicholas that she is determined to end the marriage – which he is very pleased about. But they realise that this will be easier said than done. Hazel, unlike her brother, retains a good private income; this makes it slightly surprising that she should work as a secretary to a gifted inventor, but the seasoned mystery reader assumes that an invention may have some relevance to the story.
Driffield comes on to the scene when Hazel goes missing in mysterious circumstances. At about the same time, her husband is found to have been murdered. Nicholas is the prime suspect, but he has an alibi. Another ex-convict is also hanging around suspiciously. And what about the rather enigmatic lawyer who behaves so unprofessionally.
A mysterious machine found at her home, some paintings and a cryptic telegram are among the clues in an enjoyable mystery. You do have to suspend disbelief in relation to Hazel’s behaviour, and the guilty party is relatively obvious, but all the same, this is another example of Connington’s ability to put together an unusual story that kept me engaged throughout.